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After the Trustees lifted the ban on slavery in the colony, Georgians moved quickly to establish a coastal plantation economy based on rice and Sea Island cotton.It was in Georgia that perhaps the most fateful development for the future of American slavery and the southern economy occurred in 1793, with Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin during a visit to the plantation of Catharine Greene, the widow of military leader Nathanael Greene.The more permanent settlements of the Late Archaic Period, including the notable population center at Stallings Island in the Savannah River, date back to 3000 B. The earliest Europeans in North America, the Spanish, never established any permanent settlements within the region that would become Georgia, as they did in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.Their only attempt to do so, during a naval expedition led by Lúcas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526, lasted only six weeks.
These missions played a key role in assimilating the Native American populations of the region into the colonial system.
(Only Virginia was larger, until its northwestern counties withdrew to form the separate state of West Virginia in 1863.) As both an Atlantic seaboard state and a Deep South state, Georgia played a particularly crucial role in the secession crisis and the formation of the Confederacy.
It had the largest population and the largest number of both slaves and slaveholders of any Deep South state (and was second only to Virginia overall), and yet it had two vast geographical areas in which slavery played only a minimal part—the southeastern wiregrass and longleaf pine woods region, and the northern mountains.
Its formation came a half century after the twelfth British colony, Pennsylvania, was chartered (in 1681) and seventy years after South Carolina's founding (in 1663).
Georgia was the only colony founded and ruled by a Board of Trustees, which was based in London, England, with no governor or governing body within the colony itself for the first two decades of its existence.